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Stand up to, confront sexual harassment in workplace

Sexual harassment should never be condoned or accepted in the workplace, but it has been for years. Lately though, the culture and attitude toward sexual harassment has steadily shifted. It’s not OK; it’s not normal behavior, so don’t tolerate it! Increasingly more people have come forward to report incidents of sexual harassment, and society is applauding.

It’s not easy coming forward with such a complaint, though. Many victims – most of whom are women – fear retribution in some form. They are vulnerable and feel as if they don’t have power. Among their fears include the loss of job hours, being given poor work shifts, being ostracized by colleagues, and flat out being fired from their jobs.

Speaking out is important. You ultimately have the power, so assert it. “No” means no to sexual harassment, which may include an unwanted touch, comments about your body, lewd and suggestive texts and emails, unwanted phone calls and attention and stalking.

Steps to take

Here are some steps you can take when dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace:

  • Confront the person. Sometimes this is all that is needed. Be assertive and immediately tell the harasser that this behavior will not be accepted. Tell them to stop harassing you, and say it loud enough that people around you will be able to hear.
  • Document everything. Do so in a personal bound notebook, but do not store the information on a work device. The records may include emails, texts as well as a record of times, places and descriptions of the incidents, along with witnesses.
  • Report the incident to your manager. You company should have policies in place that address sexual harassment. However, if your manager is the perpetrator, contact human resources. But ultimately, you may have to go to police as well as contact a lawyer.
  • Get help through a support group or a counselor. This may make you feel empowered again.

A company and its owner have the legal responsibility to protect its employees from sexual harassment. This cannot be ignored. You want to feel safe and comfortable in an environment that is free of sexual harassment.

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